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The 1948 National Interscholastic Boxing Tournament at Memorial Gym

On Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, the Miller School of Albemarle County hosted the National Interscholastic Boxing Tournament in UVa’s Memorial Gym. The Miller School boasted four boxers seeded in the event:

Ernest Drumheller, 95 Ibs.; Chesley Proffitt, 125 Ibs.; Paul Buck, 130 Ibs.; and Dabney Walters, 145 Ibs. None of these young men, however, made it to the final round in this tournament, which was comprised of students from high schools and prep schools from 12 cities in seven states and the District of Columbia. Over 2,500 spectators showed up to see the young men compete. The team from Miller School placed fourth.

Among the highlights of the tournament was a guest appearance by former heavyweight champion, Jack Dempsey. Dempsey, whose 78-bout career consisted of 49 knockouts, served as the referee for two of the final match-ups and presented trophies to the winners. Dempsey is shown in the center photo being interviewed by a WCHV sportscaster.

Miller School, established in 1874 to be a charitable coeducational institution, composed only of students in financial need, was by 1948 an all-male military school, but still admitting only non-paying students. Boxing was the favorite sport at the school in the 1940s, when Hugh Flannagan, later the superintendent of Miller School, was hired as Boxing Coach. But by the mid-1950s, boxing “waned in popularity because apparently of unfavorable publicity regarding its dangers,” according to a Miller School Catalogue of the 1960s. Also, the expense of traveling to the few schools which still had boxing programs in the 1950s became prohibitive, since most of them were far away.

Rip Payne, who took thousands of photographs of athletic contests throughout his career, was hired in the 1940s to do sports photography for the University of Virginia.

The photograph on the bottom shows Chesley Proffitt of Miller School, who fell after taking 2 straight rights from Ferris Robinson of North Chattanooga, after which referee Eddie LaFond stopped the fight.

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